Showing posts with label Frank Slaughter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Frank Slaughter. Show all posts

Monday, June 24, 2024

God's Warrior

Frank Slaughter was a best-selling novelist and successful surgeon. His specialty was both medical thrillers, like Air Surgeon and Surgeon's Choice, but also Biblical historical novels based on the Old and New Testament's most iconic people. I recently read his 1962 Biblical novel David: Warrior and King and decided I would try another based on my love of the writings of Paul in the New Testament. He is one of the most cherished apostles in the Bible and he experienced a life of turmoil and abuse while teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Slaughter's novel God's Warrior is a fictional novel based upon historical records, Biblical scripture, and some guesswork on the part of the author to fill in some of the gaps left from the records. The book was published as a hardcover by Doubleday in 1967 and as a Pocket Book paperback a year later.

The author lays the book out beginning with Paul's young adult life in Book I, “Tarsus”, and his death in Book VII, “Rome”. In Tarsus, Saul (the early name for Paul) is working for his father as a tent and sail maker. He meets Joseph of Cyprus and the two strike up a friendship. Joseph invites Saul to a university to listen to a Greek stoic philosopher. This is an early indication that Saul is willing to go against the grain when it comes to his Jewish upbringing. He has an open mind and is willing to educate himself on the culture, philosophy, and religions of the area. Because of his determination, Saul convinces his father to allow him to go to Jerusalem to become educated. 

In Jerusalem, Saul is attempting to donate money to God at the local temple. In that time, there were different denominations of money. The money-handlers were there to switch the currency to the common medium exchange in the temple. As was often the case, the money-handlers stole money this way and Saul immediately sees the con and is quick to respond. It is this early indication that Saul's life will be an extremely difficult one. Constant turmoil and chaos was the life of Paul, the crusading apostle. 

In early conversations and letters from his friend Joseph (and later Luke), Saul learns of a man named Jesus that traveled through Israel spreading the message of salvation. Jesus stated he was the Messiah that was written about in the Hebrew scriptures (what we know today as the Old Testament) and that his coming meant that the Jewish customs and way of life had ended. Moses's Law was no more. Saul learns Jesus was crucified by the Romans (and Jews) at a place called Golgotha.  

When Saul's father becomes ill, he travels back to Tarsus and meets a young doctor named Luke. This strikes up an early friendship between the two that will dominate most of Saul's life. When Paul travels back to his teachings, he begins his own church teaching Jewish customs that are deeply rooted in the law of Moses (requiring sacrifices, strict code). When he learns in Damascus of a Christian movement, he begins losing members of his congregation to this new assembly of followers of Jesus Christ. Saul is summoned by the High Priest and assigned the role of Scribe of Sanhedrin and the re-enforcement that he should continue his Jewish teachings at the Synagogue of the Libertines. Saul's church stands in defiance of a new church of Christians led by Simon Peter, a man who knew and followed Jesus until his crucifixion on the cross. A man who was designated by Jesus to be the rock that the new church is built upon. 

Later, Saul begins working with the local government and High Priest in locating and discovering Christians and is paramount in their eventual execution. There is a chapter that shows the earliest Martyr, a Christian named Stephen, that is stoned to death for his beliefs. Saul is there and is an instrument in Stephen's martyrdom. On a road to Damascus, Saul encounters the Lord and is brought to his knees in disbelief. Jesus asks Saul why he is persecuting Christians. Saul is struck blind during the meeting and told by Jesus to arise and go into the city and he will be told what to do. In the city, he meet a weaver named Ananias who tells Saul she was instructed by the Lord to heal him. Saul immediately “sees the light” and is transformed into a follower of Christ when he becomes healed.

The second half of the book is Saul's transformation into Paul the Apostle and his crusades through the Middle-East, the Mediterranean, and parts of Asia. Often Paul clashes with Simon Peter, who is still hanging on to part of the Law of Moses despite being told by both Jesus and Paul that the old way is no more (my personal opinion on Simon developing Catholicism and their hybrid of Old and New Testament rituals). The two debate at what is known as the Incident at Antioch. 

Of course a bulk of the second half narrative is church-building, the planting of Christian churches through missionary work that was often condemned by the local authorities. Paul is often beaten, jailed, thrown out of town, and considered a criminal. His life in Corinth, the relationships with Priscilla and Aquila, and his travels around the region of Galatia and Phrgia are well documented here. The book's finale is the journey back to Jerusalem and Paul's long imprisonment there while consorting with Timothy and Luke to write down his testimony. His death came during Nero's reign and there is some mentions of Simon Peter being crucified upside down. 

If you love an epic adventure novel, then hands down God's Warrior is an absolute treasure. However, if you are Christian like myself that have read and studied Paul's scripture in the New Testament, then you will find Frank Slaughter's account meticulously align with the Bible. There is freedom here to expand upon the scriptures and to fill in the blanks to connect major pieces of history. In doing so, the author presents a grand epic of Paul's chaotic, but important role in developing the Christian church and ushering in Jesus Christ's message - God's grace saves, works don't. Unlike other religions that teach “what you can do for God”, Christianity's message is crystal clear - “what God did for you”. That message dominates God's Warrior as well as the New Testament teachings. But again, if you aren't a Biblical scholar or even a Christian, this is a fantastic adventure novel. Highly recommended. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Monday, January 8, 2024

David: Warrior and King

Author Frank G. Slaughter (1908-2001) concentrated his writing efforts on medical-suspense novels and historical fiction. As C.V. Terry, Slaughter authored sweeping adventure fiction that incorporated buccaneers and early medical surgeons, evident in titles like Buccaneer Surgeon (1954) and Buccaneer Doctor (1955). I've enjoyed his historical fiction set in the early days of Florida, including Apalachee Gold (1954), which was my first experience with the author. But, Slaughter also authored a number of historical fiction that is based off of the Holy Bible. These “biblical history” titles included full-length novels about figures like Ruth, Simon, Mary, and Paul

In reading the Bible, specifically books Samuel and Chronicles, a grand adventure presents itself concerning one of the most iconic figures in religion, King David of Israel. When I was a kid, church was mandatory, and sitting through endless sermons was cumbersome for my restless spirit. But, the most exciting aspect of attending church was the scriptures about David, a fierce warrior who bested the Philistine giant. Later, as an adult, I had always considered David's story as one of the best and earliest adventure accounts in literature. I had longed for a book that would incorporate the actual scripture, but in a novel format that would take some liberties in fleshing out the complete, awe-inspiring life of David. Thankfully, I discovered that Slaughter had that idea in the early 1960s. 

David: Warrior and King was published by World Publishing Company as a hardcover in 1962 and then published by Permabook a year later in paperback. Today, you can find it as an ebook HERE

At 400 pages, the novel begins with David as a young shepherd boy in Bethlehem. Readers learn that David's brother is Eliab, a soldier for King Saul in the Israeli military. David is a skillful hunter, displaying his bravery to Eliab with the hunting and slaying of a pesky jackal. In the early pages of the book, the prophet Samuel anoints David's head with oil and declares that he will eventually become Israel's king. This prophecy shapes the book's narrative as readers embark on the inevitable journey to the throne.

David's life spills onto the pages in a compelling, easy to read format that doesn't take anything away from scripture. Slaughter's novel showcases the shepherd boy and the stark contrast to Saul, an angry, mentally unstable king that eventually skirts God's will to pursue selfish interests. 

In the book's opening half, readers learn of David's first love, his epic battle with Goliath, and his eventual marriage to Saul's daughter. His friendship with Jonathan and Joab are central to the book as David matures under Saul's watchful eye. As the half closes, David and his small band of soldiers have become enemies of Saul. This harrowing event sets into motion a cat-and-mouse game through the hills and mountains as David avoids Saul's wrath while also positioning himself politically to gain the throne. 

In the second half, David's reign is presented through world-building and intricate political moves that incorporate the usual strife and treason among the most trusted allies. Perhaps the most important part of David's story is his eventual downfall, a mistrust between himself and God. These chapters show a hardened David, one that will even murder his own loyalists to pursue what his heart desires. David's yearning and fascination for Bathsheba, a married woman, leads him to some pretty dark places. God's will reshapes not only David's life, but his family's generations to come. This monumental event sparks a drastic change for Israel's future king. 

David: Warrior and King is one of the best books I've read in a long time. Slaughter's meticulous detail to geography, historical events, and the people of this era is just extraordinary. Chapters of the book also connect directly to scripture, which is highlighted for the reader with direct passages from the Bible. As a casual men's action-adventure fan, you'll enjoy this march through the military ranks, the sweeping fights across endless battlefields, and the extreme compromises David faces as an enemy of the state. If you enjoy fantasy epics, there is enough world-building, tribes, and swordplay to soak up the narrative. 

If you are a Christian, Jew, or Muslim, David's life and history, as shown in the Bible, is an important part of your own religion. No matter your faith, King David is iconic. If you aren't of the faith, then the book should still be enjoyable as an action-packed novel. But, hopefully, Slaughter's novel will peak your curiosity and lead you on a path to the written scripture and ultimately...God. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Apalachee Gold

Frank G. Slaughter (1908-2001) is an alumnus of Duke and Johns Hopkins University. He became a successful surgeon in 1930, working first in Virginia before moving to Jacksonville, FL in 1934. In 1946, Slaughter exchanged his scalpel for a typewriter and became a full-time novelist. Throughout his career, Slaughter has written 62 books and achieved sales of over 60 million copies. Though most of Slaughter's novels are medical fiction, he has many biblical and historical novels. His 1954 Ace paperback, Apalachee Gold, is an adventure novel based on a little known historical event in Florida known as the De Vaca Expedition.

The protagonist in the book is the young Spaniard Pedro Morales. Pedro is the clerk of an arrogant Spanish conquistador called De Narvaez. Pedro's uncle, De Vaca, holds a position of treasurer. In 1527, the governor of Cuba ordered De Narvaez to employ a fleet of five vessels and 400 men to the coast of the Gulf of Florida in search of gold. Both Pedro and his uncle joined this expedition. These boats ended up being separated or damaged by severe storms. However, the heart of the story involves Pedro and an enslaved Moor named Estevanico.

After finding various Indian tribes in western Florida, Pedro and Estevanico began to learn how to hunt and fight as well as identify all edible plants. The adventure duo quarrel with a number of Indians and even some of De Narvaez's men. Slaughter's narrative, loosely based on real accounts, has both men captured by Indians and placed in extreme circumstances. 

The two explorers ended up struggling and negotiating their way to the Mississippi River. It's here they navigate into Texas and what is now Corpus Christi Bay. Pedro develops a romantic interest and Estevanico struggles for his own freedom. The finale of the book has the two men, paired with De Vaca, trying to free the Indians from Spanish soldiers.

I have a penchant for early pioneer novels and this certainly fits that sub-genre. While it's not really a western, it still possesses that pioneering lifestyle that makes this genre so interesting to me. I liked these two main characters, the history of our nation at that time and from a Christian standpoint I liked the spiritual messages throughout. It is a great testament to faith. However, as a product of its time, there is an antiquated ideology concerning the Indians. Like anything historical, just take what you can gain from it and disregard some of the older sub-texts. If you can do that, Apalachee Gold is a solid read.

Buy a copy of this book HERE